According to a survey conducted in October, nearly 70% of consumers plan to skip Black Friday and holiday shopping altogether this year. While some believed retailers manipulated shoppers, a relatively large amount (18%) said they won’t shop because of large crowds.
Despite the relatively small sample size in the survey, a growing number of shoppers said Black Friday had lost its appeal. “While Black Friday sales provide a great opportunity for brands to keep customers coming back for more, it also presents noteworthy risks for shoppers around buying too much,” said Michael Podolsky, CEO, and co-founder of PissedConsumer.com, which conducted the survey.
“Consumers are now savvier with their purchases and how much they spend. That is not just inflation causing the shift in consumer behavior,” Podolsky stated. “The survey revealed that 85% of shoppers now rely on online reviews when buying as they intend to avoid general unhappiness with shopping.”
Small business growth expert Stephanie Scheller of Grow Disrupt said there’s little question that the days of getting excited about the day after Thanksgiving shopping sprees have ended.
“While there are still ‘doorbusters’ at some places that are worth participating in, most places offer great deals online or are starting so early that it’s not worth the fight for Black Friday beyond tradition,” Scheller offered.
“I think that the problem with this is that we’ll end up diluting the power of the concept, and while overall shopping numbers might be okay, the one-powerful-day for generating sales for the holiday season concept is likely to fade.”
According to Adobe Analytics, Black Friday 2021 raked in $14.04 billion in online sales, with $8.9 billion spent on Black Friday and $5.14 billion on Thanksgiving.
The spending represented a .63% decrease from 2020 when Black Friday sales raked in $14.13 billion in online sales.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, 100 million consumers shopped online, while in-person Black Friday shopping fell 37 percent from 2019. “Digitalization has encouraged the growth of online stores, due to which special deals and offers remain no more exclusive,” said Matt Gillman, founder of SMB Compass.
“People prefer online stores more than regular stores, which affects Black Fridays. And this is because of the perks online stores offer at the same costs. So, along with the low prices, we can focus on providing a better shopping environment.”
Despite declining sales and enthusiasm from many corners of the nation, some still enjoy the tradition of leaving the dinner table early to stand in the long lines that often accompany Black Friday sales.
“I usually think of shopping as therapy; therefore, I always look forward to Black Friday for the excellent prices,” said Sean Harris, managing editor at Family Destinations Guide, which provides information and reviews of resorts, hotels, and global destinations.
“Black Friday not only allows me to fill my closet with the newest styles at discount prices, but it also makes it possible for me to find some excellent offers on electronics and books,” Harris exclaimed.
“I primarily rely on gadgets to simplify my life as a tech-savvy individual. Therefore, I require everything, from an air purifier to a coffee foaming machine.
“As a result, Black Friday will never lose its appeal to me because I can obtain incredible electronics discounts online.
“The same is true for books, which are a staple of mine and are available in bulk in specially curated best-seller collections every Black Friday Sale.”
Emily Saunders, Chief Revenue Officer for eLuxury, noted that Black Friday always loses its luster during an economic downturn, but she said she’s skeptical about whether those declines are permanent. “Brick-and-mortar retail is fading, but Black Friday still has a strong heartbeat when economic times are good,” Saunders asserted.
“It recovered with a vengeance once the Great Recession was over, and online shopping had become an established alternative.
“I equate it to network television. Everything aired on major networks is being watched by far fewer people compared to the pre-streaming days, but you’d never know that on Super Bowl Sunday. It still elicits around 100 million viewers each year.”
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.